As I have written before, our car has been out of commission for almost a year now. It still starts up and is drivable, but randomly overheats when on the road. So we put it up for sell on Craigslist. I am thankful that someone has answered our ad and has purchased it now. We were honest and upfront with all the problems, little or small. They still bought it after negotiating the price down, which was fine with us. In the meantime, we are housing the car in our garage until they arrive in Pedasi this December. We can then do all the required paperwork. Mikkel goes in and starts it up every now and then to make sure the battery is charged and it is still running as before. But we are not driving the car around anymore, even in the pueblo. Not that this would stop us from driving it, but we still haven’t received our new license plate for 2015. It’s been since May and we have all the correct documents. I checked again with the Municipal Office here in Pedasí yesterday, but still no plate. The clerk said she will call Panama “mañana” to inquire; we know what mañana means. She did assure me that I could transfer the car no matter.
Our plans for selling the car was to buy another one for about the same price, if we could find one for the interim time until we have saved up enough for one better. We did find a Toyota 4Runner. It has been sitting for over a year; the owners have moved back to the U.S. The battery needs replaced and the AC needs recharged, but it seems to run well. We are ready to buy, but unfortunately the title is missing. Only a copy of the title is available right now and that is not acceptable to transfer in Panama. The owners are looking for the original title thinking it may be in storage in the U.S. Panama charges a hefty fee to have a title replaced. So we are in limbo now, hoping the title will be found soon. We continue to look for other possible vehicles for sell in our price range.
In the meantime, we are back to walking, riding a bike (now have a basket to carry things and a wider cushioned seat), taking the bus, bumming a ride off a friend, or occasionally renting a car for necessary business trips. I have never been this long without a vehicle since I was in college. Even when my car broke down in the past, it usually only took a few days to fix. I could rent a car while it was in the shop or borrow a car from a family member or friend. Mikkel and I owned 2 cars before we moved here. In the past, if my car cost too much to fix, I would find another I could afford to buy or make payments on. Here in Panama, used and new cars are somewhat more expensive than those I could find in the states. And we are unable to get any financing (don’t like making payments anyway), so we have to come up with the full amount. Not so easy when you are on a fixed income. But I am getting used to being without a vehicle to freely use when I choose. It just takes a little more planning when we need to go somewhere.
So again I am thankful for our dear friends who have occasionally helped us out. Also the Panama bus system, even in the interior and almost every small village, there are buses (usually vans filled to capacity) that can transport you almost anywhere for an inexpensive price. Pedasi usually has vans that leave from behind Super Central market in town about every hour during the day. When we return back to Pedasí, they take us to our front door. (Can’t get that in California where we lived.) There are also taxis in our small village. And I am thankful we even have a car rental agent in town now (wasn’t here when we first moved to Pedasí). So we don’t have to go all the way to Chitré to pick up a rental car. Pedasí does also have a small airport which has schedule flights by AirPanama 3 times a week for those who want a quicker trip to the city. Mikkel and I have not used this method; we have opted to take the bus from Las Tablas instead. Those buses are usually the large tour buses with air conditioning, but always take along a sweater or jacket. And you may want a pair of earplugs also; the music on board can get pretty loud sometimes. It’s a 5-hour jaunt to the city with a 20-minute stop for food and bathroom break, but the price is right ($6.80 one way for jubilados/pensionados).
So thank God it’s Thursday. There are always many things we can be thankful for. It all depends on whether you choose to see the glass of water half empty or half full.